Pandemic hits international VET students hard

Media release

28 April 2021

New data shows the COVID-19 pandemic affected the outcomes of international students who completed a nationally recognised vocational education and training (VET) qualification in Australia.

The report International onshore VET qualification completer outcomes 2020, compiled by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), uses data collected in mid-2020 from approximately 15 500 respondents to the National Student Outcomes Survey.

Results from the survey show the top two reasons for enrolling in a VET qualification in Australia were to develop or start their own business and to improve their general education skills. In all, 87.7% achieved their main reason for training.

The survey showed the COVID-19 pandemic affected international onshore VET qualification completers in many ways:

  • Of those employed in mid-2020:
    • 68.3% had their hours reduced because of the pandemic
    • 24.0% were temporarily stood down because of the pandemic
  • Of those who didn’t have a job in mid-2020, 50.1% had a job previously that they lost due to the pandemic
  • Of those who looked for work after training, 60.6% cited a lack of jobs due to the pandemic as a barrier to finding a job.

Quotes attributable to NCVER Managing Director Simon Walker

The results of this year’s survey are particularly important given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international students. Extra questions were added to this year’s survey to understand how the pandemic affected students’ employment and study outcomes.

Around 60 000 international onshore VET qualification completers were contacted during the annual survey.

While over half of the students had an improved employment status after training, this was down 4.0 percentage points from 2019. A slightly higher proportion were enrolled in further study in Australia than in 2019 (54.6% compared with 51.3%).

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, students remained very satisfied with the overall quality of their training (83.7%).

DOWNLOAD: International onshore VET qualification completer outcomes 2020

Data products and resources for this release:

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Enquiries: Deanne Loan M: 0413 523 691 E:

About NCVER: we are the main provider of research, statistics and data on Australia’s VET sector. Our services help promote better understanding of VET and assist policy makers, practitioners, industry, training providers, and students to make informed decisions.

This work has been produced by NCVER on behalf of the Australian Government and state and territory governments.